Terrible Twos

Someone once asked me, “What is the worst age of a child?”

I said, “Two, twelve, and twenty-two!”

Everyone has heard of the terrible twos.
(I’ll touch on the other ones later, although the reasons are very similar.)

The age of two is the time when kids get independent overnight.

“Me…me do it !”

They stubbornly try to button their sweater or open the juice can or buckle their car seat “all by myself”, refusing help, but unable to do it themselves.

It’s the age when they will lose control of their tempers; kicking, biting, screaming, even holding their breath. (Don’t worry over the last one. No one has died from holding their breath. They’ll faint first and breathe.)

It’s also the age when learning obedience is crucial. Stubbornness, selfishness, pride, and rebellion are all sin and must be dealt with … firmly and consistently…now, before they grow any stronger.

First of all, I think that much of their frustration is not being able to communicate. The vocabulary of two year old children is limited. They know that they want something or don't feel well or need attention, but they don’t know how to say it. We need to be able to read their emotions and needs. We need to ask them, “Does your knee hurt? Would you like a banana? Is your toy broken?” Talk to them constantly, teaching them new vocabulary.

Also, a two year old realizes that he is not a baby anymore and wants to grow up. He often wants to do everything that we do, but gets frustrated and angry when he can’t. Recognize this burst of independence by giving them tasks that make them feel important; folding the washcloths, setting spoons on the table, carrying the new baby’s teddy bear, etc.

But…because that sin nature is strong, there will still be times when that sweet little two year old will explode into a screaming monster. Don’t yell back, but don’t give in. It is a battle of authority. If you give in, you have lost.

Quietly and firmly, pick him up. Give him a solid swat on the behind and put him in a time-out spot. Set a timer for 5 minutes and tell him that if he is quiet for five minutes, he may leave. Then walk away, out of sight, across the room, or far enough that he feels alone. If he gets down, silently and firmly put him back and set the timer back to 5 minutes. (I used timers for everything. They make great limits.)

When he has learned to submit and has quieted down for 5 minutes, talk quietly with him. Hug him, tell him that you love them, tell him that what they did was wrong, encourage him to apologize, pray with him,…teach him the feeling of forgiveness.

With consistent firm loving, a child will have fewer and fewer of those terrible two tantrums. He will learn that sin has consequences, that being punished is a form of love, and that forgiveness comes with repentance…all the ingredients of salvation.

“Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure and whether it be right.” Proverbs 20: 11


ttm said...

I love that you posted this. It's encouraging to a mother of a 1 1/2 year old! I know it's bound to happen, but it's reassuring to know that I'm not alone in it.

Yvonne said...

ttm, thanks for commenting. Enjoy these years with your little boy. Kids grow up so fast.

Joanne Sher said...

Excellent advice, dear Vonnie, that I wish I'd followed more consistently. I hope many mothers find your blog and learn from your wonderful example. Thank you for sharing.

Lydia said...

Great post! I'm confused by the first sentance... I understand why the worst ages are 2 & 12, but I can see why 22 has been added to that list! You'll have to fill me in later!
Love, your 22-year-old daughter.

Laury said...

Well now, I'm past the terrible two's,I can't wait to hear what you say about twenty-two! We'll have to call you Nanny Vonnie:) Such good advice but I am extremely glad I'm done with that age! Oh so glad!

Yvonne said...

Lydia, (smile) of course, you don't get it...you're in it!
No...now that you're married, you moved through that stage quickly. I'm so very thankful for your loving, thoughtful husband.

ttm said...

Hi Yvonne,
I stopped by Cup of Jesus this morning and from there I visited Taste Buds, and saw a note on that page that said Terrible Twos. Needless to say I was curious!


Patty Wysong said...

LoL--Vonnie, Jim & I have always loved the two's!! Well, let me rephrase that--we greatly enjoyed OUR two year olds. We loved seeing them learn they could do new things and encouraged it, but like you said, there was NO doubt about who was in charge. THAT enabled us to enjoy the little ones a great deal.

For me the 12's were harder than the 2's--but maybe those are just fresher in my memory. LoL. Looking forward to the next installment...

Elizabeth said...

:) I wish we could use your methods at the daycare...it really is the best way!


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